What Kind of Father was Abraham Lincoln?

Thursday, April 26, 2012
What kind of father was Abraham Lincoln?  I am currently reading a book called Abraham Lincoln on Leadership.  Ok, actually I am listening on my mp3 player as I drive to and from work.  Wow, I would love to be the kind of man Abraham Lincoln is.  Today the book relayed a story I had never heard before about Lincoln as a father.  The more I learn about Abraham Lincoln the more I am amazed (check out Team of Rivals).  Surely he is among the greatest men who has ever lived.

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln gave more presidential pardon's than any president before or since?  It is understandable as so many of them were for deserters in the civil war.  For much of history deserting your post has been punishable by death.  Harsh perhaps, but when your actions [falling asleep at your post etc] can get your fellow soldiers killed it was an effective way to maintain discipline.  Lincoln recognized that war is awful and felt like if "god gave a man cowardly legs" then perhaps some lenience when they "run away with him" was appropriate.  Lincoln once heard about a 16 year old young man who was scheduled to be executed for desertion.  He telegraphed the general in charge to pardon the young man and asked that they institute a policy of not executing anyone under 18 years old.

Abraham and Mary had four sons, Robert, Eddie, Willie and Tad.  Robert is the only one who lived to adulthood.  Eddie died when he was 4 years old in 1850.  Willie died when he was about 11 years old in 1862, the middle of the civil war.  Tad died when he was 18 years old in 1871.  You ever hear the theory that Lincoln suffered from depression?  I think he had more than his fair share of heart ache.

Willie and Tad evidently had heard of the pardons issued by their father.  When one of their soldier dolls "fell asleep at its post".  The doll of course was sentenced to death.  The boys brought the issue to their father knowing he was the only one that could help.  Among all his responsibilities, dealing with a difficult cabinet, finding his way through the hostile politics, and coping with the stress of waging a war that threatened to destroy the nation and end the constitution, Abe took the time to address the situation. On presidential stationary he issued a pardon, signed as all his pardons were,  "A. Lincoln".

I think he was a good father.  I will probably never be president [we're looking looking at a potential run in 2016], but I hope I can be that kind of father.


  1. Love it Vic. You really had some pressure to post :) Glad you did. I would love to read more about people like Lincoln. Those are some amazing stories.

  2. I don't know you or your lovely wife but you both seem to be amazing, generous, giving, and loving individuals. AND....you seem as amazing a father as your wife is an amazing mother. You probably read or heard of the letter President Lincoln sent to Mrs. Bixby. His letter is so poignant, heartfelt and so beautifully written to this mother who grieved the loss of her sons because of the Civil War. I can't imagine the depth of your loss but the way you both have moved forward with your lives shows me how someone can grieve with dignity and grace. It is truly an example of the type of persons you both are. I'm think you are a great father and your two little kids will always love and adore both of you. Congrats on your new little one!! Your son is adorable and such a cute little mini-me of both his parents!!

  3. Wow what a great dad. I have a hard time putting the dinner aside sometimes (let alone a country at war etc.) to give my kids the attention they need. I love that story and the big picture of what it means. My understanding was the impression his mother made on him had a large part of what kind of a father he was.

    Oh PLEASE don't let me screw up my kids.


  4. Vic - I love that you picked to write about President Lincoln. Ted and I are both obsessed with him. I posted this quote of his on my blog a couple of weeks ago:
    "In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all,
    and it often comes with bitter agony.
    Perfect relief is not possible,
    except with time.
    You cannot now believe that you will ever feel better.
    But this is not true.
    You are sure to be happy again.
    Knowing this,
    truly believing it,
    will make you less miserable now.
    I have had enough experience to make this statement." - Abraham Lincoln

  5. Thanks Vic. I love A.L. and this is a story I've never heard. Just the fact that this story touches you lets me know you are and will always be a good father. A man that truly pursues it will surely achieve it. Love hearing from you.

  6. Thanks Vic. I love A.L. and this is a story I've never heard. Just the fact that this story touches you lets me know you are and will always be a good father. A man that truly pursues it will surely achieve it. Love hearing from you.

  7. I'll put this down for my next read. I finally just finished John Adams and loved every page! You are bread from the same stock as these great men my brother. Paul

  8. I'll have to add this book to my list. I just finished John Adams and loved every page. Brother, you are bread from the same stock as these great men! Paul

  9. What neat info to know about Lincoln. I've admired him as a President, and now as a father. I imagine if we could learn more about people in general we would see things to admire in them. I'm glad you posted. It's nice to hear your thoughts. You are a good Dad, it's simple to see when you talk about your children. I love you!

  10. From all I've read, he was an intense, complex, and remarkable man with a lot of integrity. Sounds like a good book!



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